Bangalore, Karnataka: Most of the 16 country-made pistols recovered from the three right-wing activists arrested in Maharashtra were procured recently, most likely after the arrest of K.T. Naveen Kumar — one of the accused in the Gauri Lankesh case — in February 2018. Sources said this is a cause for concern as it indicates that the people involved were plotting to kill more people on their hit list, many in a short span of time.
These are suspected to include the two pistols used in the murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M.M. Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. They are being tested for possible matches with cartridges found at the crime scene.
During the course of their investigation into the murder of Gauri Lankesh, the SIT in May 2018 had recovered a hit list of 34 intellectuals from Amol Kale’s diary, eight of who were from Karnataka. The probe revealed an ambitious plan to set in motion multiple murder plots simultaneously in Karnataka.
The probe revealed a plot to kill Mysuru-based rationalist Prof. K.S. Bhagavan, which investigators said was at an advanced stage of implementation. K.T. Naveen Kumar, 37, of Hindu Yuva Sena, a fringe group, was arrested by Bengaluru police in February 2018 when he was trying to procure a country-made pistol for the murder. This indicated that the gang had no weapon other than the one used to kill Gauri Lankesh. FSL reports have linked the weapon to the murder of M.M. Kalburgi.
The pistol, which was used to kill Narendra Dabholkar and was also one of the weapons used in the murder of Govind Pansare, is not working, the probe had indicated.
Amol Kale reportedly told interrogators that they were trying to create ‘multiple self-contained teams’ to execute multiple plots. His diary had entries pointing to several plots targeting rationalists in Karnataka.
Sources said Srikanth Pangarakar, a former Shiv Sena councillor from Jalna who was arrested by the Maharashtra ATS, was a close associate of Amol Kale, the alleged kingpin in the Gauri Lankesh case. The investigation indicates that they were in constant touch for the past one year and Pangarkar had visited well-known country-made pistol hubs in central India.